How to Increase Accountability in Any Organization
Bob Prosen is President and CEO of The Prosen Center for Business Advancement, whose mission is to help business leaders execute
and achieve results that count. Bob, a speaker at the 2007 Entrepreneurial Masters Program (formerly Birthing of Giants), is the author of the book “Kiss Theory Good Bye,” www.kisstheorygoodbye.com
A leader’s job is to ensure every member of the team wins, and winning is defined as meeting the organization’s top objectives. One of the best ways I’ve found to help people win is to establish an accountability-based culture focused on producing results, not activities. Here is the seven-step formula you can use to create accountability and achieve extraordinary results in any organization:
S T E P 1 : Establish the organization’s top three objectives. This means the significant few, not the important many. Once identified, objectives must be clear, concise, measurable and obtainable. Notice I didn’t say easy!
S T E P 2 : Assign each team member his or her respective objectives. Remember, when combined, they must allow the organization to achieve its top objectives. In other words, the sum of the parts must be equal to or greater than the whole.
S T E P 3 : Ask each team member what he or she needs to win. To help people win, leaders must remove the roadblocks that stand in the way. Do this by having each team member identify a maximum of three things they need to accomplish each objective. Have them put it in writing.
S T E P 4 : Agree on what the leader will do to help. Meet individually with each team member to clarify the roadblocks and agree on what’s needed to win and who will be responsible for making it happen. In all likelihood, the leader will assume some responsibility. Why? Because you’re responsible to people, not for them. Being responsible to people means helping them get what they need to win.
S T E P 5 : Follow up. Each direct report should schedule a 30-minute monthly update using a standard color-coded results report. Results at or above the plan are in green and any area behind plan is in red. Focus the conversation on what was done to achieve green and if the results will remain green for the remainder of the year. When discussing red results, focus on what will be done to achieve green status, when it will be achieved and any help that’s needed.
S T E P 6 : Share lessons learned. Hold quarterly meetings with all direct reports present to discuss lessons learned, identify critical roadblocks and make specific offers to help any team member behind plan. Remember, the leader wins when everyone on the team wins.
S T E P 7 : Reward results. When objectives are achieved, ensure that rewards are disproportionate and highly visible. Those who achieve the most get rewarded the most– and everyone should know that. It’s just that simple. Ensure that people at the bottom are either improving their performance or being moved out. No one with poor performance gets to remain on the bottom for more than a year without action being taken.
Effective communication drives results. This means being direct and forthright with people in every conversation, letting them know where they stand, what’s needed from them and when it is needed. Often good leaders can become great leaders by reshaping the way they talk. Here’s how it works. When you make a request of someone, take a little extra time to explain why you are making it. Put it in context and explain why it’s important to the goals of the business. Then the person can provide a more robust solution because she understands the purpose of the task and how the information will be used.
Last but not least, don’t forget to ask what the person needs in order to complete the task. This approach removes excuses, reduces rework and is a great way to build relationships. It’s also a great way to develop future leaders by increasing responsibility and encouraging decision making and creativity. By holding others accountable, you are teaching them to accept responsibility. Remember, making and meeting commitments is one of the best ways to build trust. So treat commitments as promises and watch how results improve.